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Lutheran Church Elects First Openly Gay Bishop

Rev. Dr. R. Guy ErwinThe Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has elected the Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin to a six-year term as bishop of Southwest California Synod, which covers the greater Los Angeles area. It is the first time the church has elected an openly gay bishop. 

GLAAD reports

This is a significant step for the ELCA, who, until 2009, had banned clergy in same-gender relationships. Prior to 2009, hundreds of gay and lesbian clergy were forced out of congregations or served under secrecy. Hundreds of seminary students were not granted ordination, simply for being gay. Many left the denomination to more welcoming denominations or to join a roster of Lutheran pastors who refused to comply with the policy.

Dr. Erwin is a native of Oklahoma and an active member of the Osage Tribe of Indians. Dr. Erwin also sits on the board of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, which expands ministry opportunities for publicly-identified LGBTQ people called to leadership in the Lutheran church as ordained pastors and rostered lay leaders.

"I know that many will see my election as a significant milestone for both LGBT people and Native Americans, and I pray that I can be a positive representation for both communities," said Erwin about his election. "There was a time when I believed that I would not be able to serve as a pastor in the ELCA. Our church has now recognized the God-given gifts and abilities that LGBT people can bring to the denomination."

In 2009 the ELCA voted to allow gay people living in committed relationships to work for the church. Prior to this they had been banned. 

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  1. Yes, what a milestone for Native Americans: The greatest consecration of cultural assimilation there is: being a priest in a white man's religion. Awesome. His Native American ancestors would be proud (well, the two of them at least, since he looks about as Native American as George Bush).

    Posted by: Jols | Jun 1, 2013 2:04:25 PM

  2. I'm a Lutheran and in my country's Lutheran church there is a small, but strong, very concervative and traditional group, majority is liberal and then, like me (I am just a member of the church, not active in it), very liberal group. Lutheran church here is rather liberal.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Jun 1, 2013 2:59:51 PM

  3. @Matt - You didn't say your country's name, but it sounds the same as the U.S.A. We have various synods. I know the Missouri Synod is very conservative. The ELCA tends towards liberal, but some congregations are pretty conservative. However, many ELCA congregations lobbied for marriage equality in Minnesota. The congregation to which I belong had a champagne toast after the Sunday service following the passage of marriage equality.

    Posted by: Mike in the tundra | Jun 1, 2013 3:29:54 PM

  4. Sounds more like what a Christian is. Thank you.

    Posted by: MARK | Jun 1, 2013 3:41:49 PM

  5. I can't believe that after 35 years I can move back to the Lutheran church. It seems almost anticlimactic now.

    Posted by: Wilberforce | Jun 1, 2013 4:11:30 PM

  6. What can happen in one church is so miraculous, and you report on other's that are so scandalous. Take your pick.

    Posted by: Edward | Jun 1, 2013 6:35:31 PM

  7. The description of the 2009 vote is not entirely accurate. The vote in 2009 was to allow for gay *clergy* in committed, monogamous relationships. The prior ban was on gay clergy, not church employees who were not serving as ordained pastors.

    Posted by: RJ | Jun 1, 2013 7:43:48 PM

  8. Church queens are the worst. What masochists to live under these edicts.

    Posted by: Edward | Jun 1, 2013 8:33:24 PM

  9. So you'll all cheer when a gay man is made chairman of the Republican Party. Again ...

    Posted by: David Hearne | Jun 1, 2013 11:04:01 PM

  10. my first thought. missouri synod lutherans must be shitting a brick.

    Posted by: bandanajack | Jun 1, 2013 11:54:37 PM

  11. Hallelujah! Wonderful news that the Lutheran Church is becoming more Christian and following the example of Christ. This is quite huge as Lutherans are the second largest mainstream Christian denomination in America (after Methodism). Along with a few other Christian denominations like the United Church of Christ, the Lutheran Church was crucial in successfully lobbying to pass marriage equality in the Minnesota (where the population is primarily Lutheran).

    Posted by: DB | Jun 3, 2013 9:23:34 AM

  12. The ELCA left the Christian faith several years ago. And now most of its members are leaving it.

    Posted by: Bro Smith | Jun 8, 2013 4:27:56 PM

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